First things first. What are foot orthotics and orthotic insoles anyway? Do you really need them?
In a nutshell they're orthopedic devices you use to alter the function of your foot.
They're placed inside your shoe (at least the types we talk about). Here we're using the terms interchangeably although there are other orthotic devices that are used outside your shoe.
You use them to:
You can see that pretty much everything on this foot orthotics list falls into the 'problems with your feet' category. Add to this the fact that any orthotic you put in your shoes will change how you walk, stand or absorb shock from the ground.
You only use foot orthotics to correct problems. They're not a 'flavor de jour' trinket you pick up just 'cuz your good friend Georgina has some!
Bottom line here is very simple. You better have a real good reason for putting any of these foot orthotic thingies in your shoes!
Do I Need Foot Orthotics?
Ah, the big question! And the answer is ....
Only you AND your podiatrist knows for sure! By now you've probably figured out there's a whole whack of things that can go on with your feet. There's also a whole whack of different things you can or need to do to correct those things.
If you've been reading along our pages at 50 Plus Fitness Walking, you just know what we're going to recommend next don't you. You got it ...
Get Professional Help!
Yup. Short and simple. If you have foot pains, other suspected problems or even any doubts or questions about your feet, see your health professional.
A podiatrist is a really good place to start. They go to school and learn tons of stuff all about the lower extremities, how your foot moves and works (biomechanics if you like the big words!).
When you figure there's over 100 parts in each of your feet and they have to absorb and handle tons of weight on them every day, it just makes sense to get advice from the experts! It's the fastest way to get you out there and enjoy your life like you deserve.
What better way to get the green light so you can get on with your Fitness Walking Program and start feeling great again! That is our goal after all. Right?
Special Note: Need help tracking down a qualified person? Here's a link for folks in the United States to help you do that. It's called The American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics
The Conundrum - Prescription or 'Off The Shelf'?
This one should be a no brainer. You have seen that the foot is pretty complex. There's a lot of different stuff goes on in there and that it's pretty important to look after your feet properly.
What we haven't spent much time on yet is this. If you get the 'wrong foot orthotic thing' for your feet, it may not even help you but actually make things worse. Just ask yourself if you want to take that chance!
You may get lucky. If you do, that's great. At our age though is it worth the risk? Do you want to lose that time figuring out what the right solution is?
Or put another way, it's a bit like going to the old bin in the 5 & 10 cent store with all the 'reading glasses' in them. You could grab a pair and hope they worked. Maybe they even 'sorta' worked. Are they the best solution for you? Or would something prescribed by a trained professional do a lot better job for you?
Us? We'd rather be out enjoying our walks without having to always be fighting or figuring out what to do with our 'equipment' (feet)! Needless to say we're huge fans of doing it right. Life is MUCH too short.
The Prescription Process
Let's assume you've seen your health professional or podiatrist. The result was a prescription for a custom foot orthotic solution for you. Not to worry. In fact this is a good thing. You know the problem has been properly identified and you have a solution just for your feet.
The process is pretty straightforward and requires very few visits. The podiatrist takes a cast of your feet, forwards that to a lab* where they make an exact replica of your feet, analyze it and determine what the best solution is.
They fabricate whatever is required to provide the correction your feet need. This in many cases takes the form of a custom insole, molded exactly to your feet and constructed so that it provides the correction(s) necessary for your foot problem.
These insoles slip into your shoes which of course you've selected following our guidelines. Right? In some cases it might be necessary to go to a larger size of shoe based on how much correction was needed in the foot orthotic
Special Note: This same link from earlier will help with finding a good lab too. It's called The American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics
As a bit of background these are the basic...
Types Of Foot Orthotics
They boil down to three main groups or foot orthotics.
Rigid Foot Orthotics - are designed to control the function of your foot. Usually they give motion control for the major joints under the ankle joint. Usually plastic or carbon fiber construction. Most useful for the abnormal function of your foot and can help eliminate pain in your legs, thighs and lower back.
Soft Foot Orthotics - can help you absorb some shock, take pressure off painful or sore spots on your feet and in some cases improve your balance. Usually made of a soft, compressible material. Can be very helpful for people with arthritis and diabetes.
Semi-Rigid Foot Orthotics - are usually designed for the active athlete. They are made of a combination of layers of soft materials combined with some rigid material. Used to help provide dynamic balance, guide your foot through the proper function and make more efficient use of muscles and tendons.
See also Orthopedic Shoes - Are They Right For You?
OK. You've got the best solutions for your foot issues resolved. If you haven't done so yet, why not go back and pick which Fitness Walking Program is right for you.
And if you haven't quite finished getting the right shoe for your new foot orthotic, maybe have a quick visit here to do that.
Enjoy your journey to feeling great. Let us know how you make out! We would love to hear from you.
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